LOVE IS IN THE HEIR
Approximately 37% of adult Americans have written wills. The remaining 63% of adult Americans have written wills but theirs have been written for them by the State of Kansas and it can be costly; especially, in second marriages. The following is a scenario of a couple who did not plan and I know this for a fact because I had to probate their estate.
Tom’s wife died five years ago. He had two adult children. One of whom had children. He met Joan who was divorced and had three adult children. All of whom had children. They decided to marry. They did not execute wills nor a prenuptial agreement essentially defining yours, mine and ours. They combined all of their assets and titled all account as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. They sold their respective homes and purchased a new house as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.
About two years ago Tom died. Joan, the surviving joint tenant, wound up owning all of their property outright in her name solely. She did not do any subsequent planning and when she died all over property past under the laws of intestate succession to her three children in equal shares. Tom’s children received nothing. Not their mother’s jewelry, the baseball card collection or other items of intrinsic value let alone any of their father’s financial assets.
There were options available to them that would have ensured that Tom’s children would have received an inheritance. They could have set up a revocable living trust keeping their individual assets separate and directing how to distribute them to their respective children. They could have made arrangements for distribution of any property acquired jointly after their marriage.
If you’re in a second marriage and have what we call a blended family, you need to sit down and plan how your property is going to be distributed upon your death to make sure it gets to your children. You have to remember that the only people have a right to inherit from one another are surviving spouses. Children do not have a right to inherit from their parents.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”